Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Free Cell Service with RingPlus

For those of you who live in an area with good Sprint coverage.  I suggest checking out RingPlus, which is a Sprint based MVNO (Mobile Virtual Network Operator)   What separates RingPlus from the other MVNOs like FreeomPop, Boost, and the like, are the amazing promotions they offer.  I'm a regular visitor of the deals site, SlickDeals, and have noticed that these promotional plans come out almost every week.

Early this year I had purchased a pre-owned LG G2 from FreedomPop and was very pleased with the free plan which came with a trial for their premium voice services ($10/month) which allows for making calls through the cell towers.  However if you downgrade to the free plan all of my calls were being forced through VOIP and the quality was not very good.

Anyways, the RingPlus promotion I signed up for was called "Surfing 5.40", which included 4000 units of voice, sms, and full speed LTE data. (in megabytes)  The only requirement was the one time purchase of $30 of top-up balance, which is only used if there are overages on your account.

My experience with the service so far is that you are going to have some issues porting over your number and getting all of the cell tower information programmed into your phone.  It took me several days and multiple phone calls to get my old number ported and for FreedomPop to release the MEID for use by another carrier.  I'm still having issues (error 16) with placing calls and recieving messages over 3G/EVDO connections.  My 4G/LTE connections are working great though.   Some of the complications are likely due to my choice to run a custom ROM on the phone.   My particular ROM is based on the Android Open Source Project (AOSP), so it does not include the utilities to automatically provision your cell tower information.   I'm having to learn a lot about the guts of Android to get everything working.  But that is part of the fun.

Long story shorter, I wouldn't recommend switching your main phone to RingPlus.  But if you can find a compatible (Sprint) pre-owned phone for cheap, it's definitely a good way to get a good deal on your spare phone or phones for your kids.


Switching to Google Cloud DNS

So my yearly randomhack.com DNS hosting bill was due again and my current provider, DynDns, had an old credit card on file.  For years Dyn's billing had been on our main account and I had not noticed that the auto-renewed price had gone up.  I remember signing up and it was maybe $30 a year.  Well, today's cost for hosting a single zone on DynDNS was $60/year!

I use Google services for pretty much everything, so I thought I would look up what the Google hosted DNS services cost.  I was really not expecting the cost to be so low, but believe it or not, Google can host your DNS services for as little as $0.60/month for your first 1 billion queries.  RandomHack gets about 6000 queries a month...

Oh and it's only $0.40/month for another billion queries, just in case I go over.  HA!

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

The Future of Network Virtualization with NSX

Bruce Davie, who lead the team that created MPLS, spoke about some of the new features in NSX 6.2.  He started talking about hardware VTEPs (VXLAN Tunnel Endpoints) and how they are currently just L2 bridges. It looks like they will be adding all of the Firewall, Load-Balancing, and Routing capabilities soon.

Bruce also showed a great demo of the Root-Cause analysis for physical paths that is being included with the vRealize Operations product.   With the growing use of overlay networks to carry traffic around the datacenter, the borders have really blurred and troubleshooting is understandably more complicated.   In his demo he showed a leaf spine archetecture using ECMP that had a switch port go down.  vRealize can now show the entire physical path as well as the logical path and was able to easily show which specific switch and port were causing the issue!

Also, he spoke about the new distributed load balancing features being introduced with NSX 6.2.  I love this idea of scale out network services.. and something I did not realize, was that the load balancers are context aware in their decisions.   For example, the balancing can happen based on actual network or CPU load of a node rather than just equally splitting the connections per node.

It was a great talk and really opened my eyes to how far NSX has come in just 18 months.

vCenter Appliance as a "First Choice"

This session discussed how the Appliance under v6.0 has been brought to parity with the Windows vCenter installations as far as the maximum size supported.  The appliance has come a long way from it's first iteration that had a maximum of 5 hosts and 50 VMs.  Today the numbers are the same for both platforms at 1000 hosts and 10,000 VMs.

Here's a summary of my notes:
  • Faster Deployment and lower TCO
    • No Windows or SQL licenses required
    • Single VM covers both the database and the vCenter services
  • Security Hardened SUSE 11 SP3
    • They have a dedicated team @ VMware to tuning the appliance for security and resiliency
  • Large sized appliance actually outperforms the Windows vCenter in transactions / sec
  • New features coming in 6.0 U1 (Q3-Q4)
    • Converting to external PSC will finally be supported
    • VAMI appliance configuration page is back and written in HTML5!
  • Migration tool (Fling) available to Migrate 5.5 and 6.0 from Windows to the Appliance
    • The was a demo that shows the web interface, which allows you to migrate just the configuration data, or the data plus historical stats (performance data


Monday, August 31, 2015

VMworld: Opening Keynote

The first General session introduced the term Unified Hybrid Cloud.  VMware is continuing to push the vCloud Air product as a solution and brought several big industry names out such as DirectTV to talk about how they are utilizing VMware's public cloud and SDDC products for their business.  Here's a few of the noteworthy announcements:

Unified Hybrid Cloud Announcements
  • New EVO: SDDC Manager Application
    • Non-disruptive lifecycle automation including firmware updates for the hardware
  • Content Library in vSphere 6.0 will be able to sync automatically with vCloud Air
  • Cross-Cloud vMotion Tech Preview
    • Tech preview of live migration between private and public clouds, both directions!
Cloud Native Apps Announcements
  • VMware Integrated Containers  (finally!!)
    • Docker containers are supported using a new lightweight Photon VM
    • Uses a 1:1 ratio instead of many:1 that is common with Docker hosts
      • This is done for security, a big concern in container based solutions
      • Allows NSX to apply security on the per-container network interfaces
      • The performance hit is actually very small, Photon VMs power up in less than 1 second
    • Photon includes two main components:
      • Open Source Photon Controller
        • Distributed multi-tenant control plane
      • Photon Machine
        • ESX based "Microvisor"
    • Distributions include:
      • Subscription based model
      • Subscription based and bundled with CloudFoundry
Everyone seems pretty excited about the cross-cloud vMotion demo.  I was actually more impressed with the news about container support.  They showed a demo of deploying a Kubernetes and Mesos clusters within minutes, including large scale deployments of 1000 containers in about 30 seconds!

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Achievement Unlocked: VCP6-Datacenter!

I took my VCP6 exam today at VMworld and passed!   I can't say anything about the actual test (NDA) other than to say you really need to know your stuff.  I went over the exam blueprint at least a dozen times before the test.  But you need to know way more than that blueprint lists. (Production experience is a must!)  The biggest challenge was time, you only have about 60 seconds for each of the 85 questions.  By the end of the test I only had about 90 seconds to review my marked questions.

Anyways, I'm glad thats done so I can concentrate my focus on the sessions and the location here in San Francisco.  

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Arrived in San Francisco

Well I arrived this morning about 10AM Pacific after jumping on the early flight leaving Greensboro at 6AM Eastern.   It's weird to loose 3 hours.  I wanted to get here pretty early so I could get checked in and registered.

I'm staying at the Hyatt Regency on Market Street this week.   It's a few miles on foot to the Moscone center and the VMworld shuttles aren't running yet.   I made it ok down to the Moscone West building and completed my self-checkin earlier today.  VMware was giving out the usual.. backpack, shirt, and a plastic bottle. (now where am I going to put this bag going home??)

San Francisco so far is pretty great.  The weather is nice and cool and there are street vendors and interesting looking hole in the wall restaurants around every corner.  There was even a fusion Sushi / Burrito place right down Market Street from the hotel.  (interesting combo there)  I had to get some food after checking in and stopped by a Vietnamese sandwich shop that had some good reviews on Foursquare.  I'll have yet to decide on a place for dinner.

My studying is going pretty well.  I'll have to ask my friend John to quiz me later when he arrives.  Since tomorrow is mostly Partner Exchange exclusive sessions, I think I will use that time to take my test.  I'm anxious to get that done so I can stop studying so much and enjoy the town.

I guess thats it for now.  Thanks for reading.